By Adam Willis, The Texas Tribune.
WASHINGTON — For the third time since President Donald Trump took office, Democratic Congressman Al Green of Houston pressed the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach the president Wednesday.
And for the third time, Green failed.
The Democratic-controlled House voted to table Green’s articles of impeachment, which he put forward Tuesday night, effectively killing the measure. The motion to table impeachment passed 332 to 95.
For more than a year and a half, Green has been a man on an island in his effort to impeach Trump. The eight-term representative from an overwhelmingly Democratic district in southwest Houston first introduced articles of impeachment in December 2017, when the Republicans controlled the House. He did it again in March of this year, after Democrats had reclaimed control. Both times, Green’s efforts were roundly defeated.
Green’s attempts run counter to the position of House Democratic leadership, and he has met stolid resistance in each attempt to bring down the president.
This time, Green’s impeachment push was in response to Trump’s explosive tweets over the weekend, which levied a racist attack on four freshman congresswomen. In an op-ed published Wednesday afternoon in The Hill, Green said impeachment was necessary because of Trump’s “long history of abusing his office for the unconstitutional purpose of promoting racism and bigotry.”
It initially looked like Green might at least get a vote on his impeachment bill after he introduced it by privileged resolution, a procedural move that forces consideration within two days. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, undermined the effort with a procedural trick of her own. Rather than vote directly on impeachment, the House considered the option to table the measure, a move that will send the measure back to committee and sink the bill.
In addition to Green, seven Texas Democrats — U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Lloyd Doggett, of Austin, Veronica Escobar of El Paso, Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Sylvia Garcia of Houston, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Filemon Vela of Brownsville — voted against the motion.
Every Democrat in the House voted to condemn the president’s words in a vote Tuesday night.
“The effort yesterday was wonderful. I supported it. But it does not punish the president. It does not fine him. He will remain in office,” Green said in a speech on the House floor Wednesday morning. “This will be the opportunity for us to go on record, letting the world know where we stand.”
Green’s actions were widely dismissed as a rogue campaign with virtually no shot at passing. And some of Green’s colleagues have questioned the timing of the push. On July 24, former special counsel Robert Mueller is scheduled to deliver his long-awaited testimony before Congress, an event that some Democrats argue could lay the groundwork for the path to impeachment.
“It is my hope that if there’s going to be an opening of impeachment, that it’s initiated by the committee of jurisdiction,” U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told Politico.
In a press conference after the vote, Green confirmed that he spoke with Democratic leadership Wednesday afternoon, but he declined to say whether they asked him to stand down.
In the meantime, impeachment is likely to remain a near-insurmountable goal for its champions, as long as Pelosi opposes it. Pelosi has so far been unwavering in her opposition to the idea, arguing that such a tactic is not strategically prudent when Republicans have control of the Senate.
When asked whether she supported Green’s articles of impeachment, Pelosi granted the motion little legitimacy: “No, I don’t. Does that come as a surprise?” On the House floor, Green acknowledged that his persistent attempts to impeach the president without the backing of his own party will not make him the most popular member on Capitol Hill, but he stressed that his efforts are moral, not strategic.
“There are times where you have to do things which are neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,” he said. “You have to do it because it’s right.”
Minutes after the vote, Green told reporters that he hopes he will not have to venture out on this limb again.
“I hope that someone else will do it. It would make my heart warm to have someone else do it,” he said. “I get no pleasure from doing it, believe me. There’s a lot of grief from a lot of different quarters, but sometimes you just have to take a stand. Better to stand alone than not stand at all.”
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